The term “mistakes” has a negative connotation to it. You made a decision or implemented something that didn’t go as planned, and now you have to deal with the repercussions. Marketing mistakes, even ones that seem massive in the moment, only end up being temporary setbacks. In fact, they usually end up being positive assets because they teach you valuable lessons about how to improve your business or marketing approach.
Unfortunately, not all mistakes are this innocuous. Some of those mistakes in the marketing realm can actually do long-term harm to your campaign. You just have to be careful not to make so large a mistake, it costs you your company. As you might learn, most of these mistakes are especially damaging because they aren’t obvious; it’s easy to fix a blog post with a spelling mistake or accuracy issue, but when you have a fundamental misunderstanding of best marketing practices, you could create irreparable harm to the brand and company.
If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, try and avoid these marketing mistakes which could really damage your brand and business.
We can do our own branding. Trying to market your business without a brand strategy is like throwing a house party and telling nobody the address. Your brand serves as a foundation of identity for new and old customers alike. It should underline and inform all messaging you put out, from the content of your website to the images on your Facebook banner. When people see your brand, notice your logo and pick up on your style of speaking and area of expertise, they’ll form a brand opinion of your business. If you don’t really understand branding, don’t pretend you know; bring in the experts.
Everyone is my customer. You have to choose who you want to market to, but too many business owners make the simple choice – market to everybody. After all, “everybody” is the largest possible audience, so it offers the largest possible return, right? Wrong. Even if you could somehow use one selection of platforms to get a specific message to everyone in the world, that message would be too generic for the entire population to value or remember. If you want to stand out, you have to be unique, and if you want to make an impression, you have to be relevant. Being both unique and relevant requires you to create specifically crafted messaging for one niche segment of the marketplace at a time.
You are not your customer. That being said, there are some marketers who understand they must create messaging for specific audience segments but still aren’t able to do it effectively. In large part, this is because they’ve made broad assumptions about their target audience, rather than relying on data and research to support their ideas. If you are a 40 year old entrepreneur or small business owner and Gen Z is your target customer, don’t assume you know them. Market research, customer data and trends are your only path to the truth.
Create a big marketing splash. Successful investment in a marketing campaign demands a careful balance. Investing too much money at the start of your campaign, before you’ve gotten to know your target audience intimately, can create excess waste. You don’t yet know what marketing platforms work best because you haven’t had the opportunity to test them, and you’re essentially gambling on what you think might work in your favor. On the other hand, investing too little will leave you with few results, and barely enough data to form any meaningful conclusions. Pura Vida, a fashion company, in their early startup days, perfected testing different messages and platforms before they found a winning formula. Once they knew what worked, they would go all in with their marketing campaign and spend.
Small experiments are not worth it. Marketing isn’t a point-and-shoot game, no matter how much we sometimes want it to be. It’s a game of setting and resetting expectations, getting asymptotically closer to a “perfect” strategy, without ever quite getting there. The only way to get better is by experimenting; trying new things and being bold with your strategies, to see which ones work and which ones fail. If you aren’t actively experimenting, you can’t possibly learn and improve, and that means you’ll remain stagnant in your marketing efforts. Never rule out a marketing strategy unless you have data illustrating it as ineffective, and never turn down an opportunity to learn more about your brand and customers.
Avoiding these marketing mistakes might seem like common sense. But how many entrepreneurs and small business owners do we know who have banked their entire marketing strategies on some of the mistakes listed above. If you really don’t know marketing, then build your network with marketing advisors and experts. Just remember, you own the recommendations they give you. Balance their advice with your knowledge of the marketplace, the trends, and your experience to date. Then make a well thought out decision. And if you’re still not sure, do a small marketing test.